Dáil Éireann - Volume 655 - 21 May, 2008
Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.
Deputy Liz McManus Deputy Liz McManus
Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps, following the publication of a recent European Commission report which shows that schools here rank in 19th place out of the 27 European Union states with regard to having access to broadband, he proposes to take to address this serious problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19716/08]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: I assume that the Deputy is referring to the European Commission’s Study on Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools, which was published following two surveys carried out in Spring 2006. The study found that 66% of Irish schools had broadband internet connections as compared with 67% of European schools generally, which ranked Ireland at number 20 of the 27 countries surveyed. The surveys underpinning this Report were undertaken during the roll-out of the Schools Broadband Access Programme and I understand that at the time of survey in March/April 2006, the percentage of schools connected under the Programme would have been in the mid 80s.
As the Deputy will be aware my Department is providing broadband connectivity to primary and post-primary schools under the Schools Broadband Access Programme. This programme is being undertaken in partnership with industry in the context of a Government — IBEC/TIF (Telecommunications and Internet Federation) Agreement to provide local broadband connectivity to schools. The Programme comprises three elements — local connectivity to schools, a national broadband network and a broadband support service desk. Schools connectivity is being routed to the Internet through a national broadband network, which is supported by HEAnet and provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/ anti-virus and content filtering. The broadband support service desk has been established to  interface between the network, the local broadband service Access Providers and schools and is managed by the National Centre for Technology in Education.
Following a competitive, technology neutral, central procurement process for the provision of local connectivity for schools in 2004, roll-out of broadband to schools commenced in June 2005. The total number of schools involved in the Programme has been adjusted in the meantime to reflect a number of school openings, closures and amalgamations and stands currently at 3,936. As of 24th April, 2008, 3,907 schools (99%) have had their local connectivity installed and of these 3,904 have had their router capability installed and tested. A further 72 schools have had broadband access provided under the Hermes and Advanced Deployment programmes. Having regard to the almost universal availability of broadband connectivity in our schools as a consequence of the Schools Broadband Access Programme, I am confident that our relative performance internationally has improved significantly.
Dáil Éireann 655 Written Answers. Telecommunications Services.